I Married Someone Outside of My Culture...it was an Education to say the Least!

1. Communication really is key

A typical buzzword that appears everywhere relationships are mentioned – ranging from work relationships to intimate relationships – this one is always brandished about. In any intimate relationship, communication is hugely important but when it comes to a cross cultural one it is completely intensified. In most relationships you communicate with each other to share your thoughts, expectations, fears worries etc – in the case of a cross cultural marriage however you become a representative for the context, expectations, norms, and considerations of your culture especially when it comes to wedding planning. This can be difficult as wedding planning provides a heightened version of everything – stress, panic, gluttony, indulgence – it is like a Pandora’s box of everything wonderful and terrifying at the same time (mostly terrifying to be honest). So in the midst of all this, finding a way to ensure both cultures are respected and upheld, communication is key to figure out just what on earth that entails.

Both of us being British to the core means we were essentially clueless on wedding related cultural norms and expectations which ended up frustrating family members and is a sure way for miscommunication and avoidable misunderstandings. If I were to do it all again I would make sure everything is communicated upfront and openly from the get go – must haves, nice to haves, desirables, no go areas and then proceed from there. Wedding planning is only one small segment of course (though doesn’t feel like it at the time) – communication throughout the marriage is key for any real chance of success.

2. Not everyone will be OK with it…

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Photo by Aliko Sunawang / Unsplash

The world is made up of billions of people all with hugely different families, backgrounds, childhoods, life experience, ambitions, dreams, hopes and fears making us all incredibly complex and unique individuals of this chaotic world. Finding that one person who you decide you want to spend every single day for the rest of your life with and bind yourself to inexplicably is no easy task – so when you find that person, from which ever corner of the universe or tone of their skin or spoken mother tongue – surely they are worth holding on to? Everything else is just white noise and irrelevant details, right? Well not according to some.

My experience of family members both very close and distant who have not only been unsupportive of my cross cultural marriage but downright offended, angered and incensed has left me bewildered. Time is finite and life is unpredictable – who has time to hold on to such ignorance, hatred and racism? Quite a few people apparently. I’ve experienced the irony that even marriage – a union based on love and respect can result in scathing hostilities, rejected wedding invitations and severed ties. It has been strange to see favorite family members whom I idolized as a child turn into hostile strangers and vessels of intolerance.

3. You can become your own architects

London is one of the most unique and diverse cities in the world and growing up here provides a smorgasbord of culture which would be hard to replicate anywhere else in the world. Being a second generation Brit it would be accurate to say my culture is more diluted than that of my parents – and the same applies to my husband, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Every culture has a wealth of good, but also its bad points – from contradictions to needless limitations – why not take all the good and leave the bad- from all the cultures that are intertwined in our own lives? In my own marriage – from the Middle East, to London, to Uganda to India to Tanzania – how much good is there in that which we can cultivate and merge into a beautiful mosaic of culture and values for our own family. The idea that we can become architects for our own little family unit of do’s and don’ts, cultural preferences, linguistic ability, values and norms and all the colors, tastes and sounds that brings with it is so exciting (but with great power comes great responsibility).

4. Learning and teaching is the best part…

Anyone who knows me knows I absolutely love my food. My whole life I have been cultivating my favorite places and tastes and flavors – from plush restaurants to holes in the wall type joints in random industrial estates (mostly the latter). I did not anticipate the satisfaction and joy I would experience by bringing this to someone else – introducing my husband to my favorite sha’by (street/street food) Arabic food joints in back alleys which he had never tasted. Watching him rashly declare za’tar as his favorite ingredient ever, or look on smugly as he falls in love with my mums dolma (how can anyone resist dolma?) or become indignant at the thought of eating kebab without sumac is so fulfilling (and slightly comical).

Photo by Edgar Castrejon / Unsplash

As a foodie who loves all types of cuisine I’ve also been surprised to find myself navigating through a new world of tastes and flavors previously unknown to me – Muragi – an East African street food curry made up of coconut milk and kidney beans is now a high ranking favorite dish of mine. I positively squeal with joy at the sight of tandoori mogo. Tamarind chutney, kachumba salad, raita, sumbaru (cabbage pickle, yes – CABBAGE, I know) have elevated my (already disproportionate) love of condiments to such heightened levels that I fear an intervention may be necessary. I love doughnuts but then I discovered Kichori – Indian savory doughnuts filled with lentils that render me speechless, especially when dipped into aforementioned tamarind chutney.

With food and its regional back stories – masgouf fish from the rivers of Iraq and the pride of the country, watermelon and cheese because – well just because it’s summer and how can you not? (unfortunately yet to convince my husband of this – some things can’t be learnt it seems), East African ugali – food that goes far and is cheap as a staple for the poor – exploring food together (my genuine true love) I’ve learnt and taught a lot (and piled on the pounds for good measure). It is not just food either, it is music and language too. Hearing the words you roll off your tongue so easily from another’s perspective for the first time and realizing howfunny/ridiculous/odd it sounds is priceless. Muthaqafa (intellectual girl in Arabic) when spoken harshly and quickly sounds like a swear word in English (silly but true). Muragi and Mandazi (Tanzanian dishes) sound like opposing African leaders (the forces of Mandazi have retreated, Muragi will be seeking reelection). As we continue to venture into each others worlds we find more and more undiscovered gems, from bizarre words to amazing food and it makes me think that there is a lot of learning and teaching people are missing out on when they only stick to the familiar.

In Holy Quran states:

“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another”

Quran 49:13

What can be better than getting to know all the different nations and tribes we have been blessed with?

Source article: https://themuslimvibe.com/life/4-things-i-have-learnt-from-marrying-outside-my-culture/

22 days ago

Get married, free, on muzmatch.

South African Match! #muzmatchsuccess

My name is Halima and I'm from Gauteng, South Africa and my husband (Arshad) is from Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa; we are both South African Indians.

He liked my profile on muzmatch on the 8th of April 2018 and on the 9th we started chatting and Alhamdulillah, today we are husband and wife.

We did our Nikah last month (March 9th 2019).

About a month before I joined muzmatch I remember speaking to my mother in the kitchen as we cooked supper and she had full confidence that I'd be getting married soon.

I told her that I felt that maybe I'm just not meant to get married and be happy, taking into consideration that I personally felt like one could never find a decent man whose intention is to make Nikah in this day and age.

My Moulana had recommended that I join Nikah/Muslim match-making groups and muzmatch populated amongst my searches, so I downloaded the app and registered. After a while I had lost hope so I deleted the app from my phone but did not deactivate my profile.

It was a Monday morning, I had woken up to get ready for work,

I checked my phone and I had an email notification from muzmatch which read "Arshad likes you".

I was quite surprised; I looked at his profile and his biography was quite captivating but it seemed so surreal - this was too good to be true.

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I used the link in his bio to view his Facebook profile, we had a mutual friend which was my cousin that also resides in Kwa-Zulu Natal, so I felt a bit more assured that this is definitely real considering that I had started to think that this could potentially be a catfish.

We started chatting that very morning and there was an instant click. It felt like we were long lost friends because of how well we understood each other and could complete each others sentences. We had the same interests and the same intention; we could speak for hours on end without running out of things to say.

We had realized that we are most definitely soulmates.

Within 2 weeks he called my parents to ask for my hand in marriage. In July 2018 (21st), I booked a flight to visit him and his mum for the day and after spending time together we knew that this was the right decision and that Allah SWT had created us for each other.

Photo by Ross Parmly / Unsplash

We then saw each other once again in August 2018 (25th - A surprise for my 21st birthday planned by him and my mum); and again in November 2018 when he flew up to attend my younger sister's wedding with his mum, younger sister and brother-in-law.

Slowly the long distance had become difficult, our younger sisters were both already married and settled and we started wondering when would we actually get married. In February this year he decided to relocate to Gauteng and found a temporary job.

His dad visited my parents and they decided to set a Nikah date, Alhamdulillah once the date was set everything fell into place by the will of Allah. He found a job as a PC Engineering lecturer and we were able to find our own place with our parents help and support.

Today I am happily married, living my dream with my husband and I have wonderful in-laws that love me as much as they love Arshad.

The most important quality I wanted in a husband was someone that could take my family as his own and Alhamdulillah I found that in Arshad.

We are now a huge happy family Alhamdulillah.

Jazak'Allah muzmatch! Arshad has found me due to the creation of this wonderful app (He always says that he found me, not the other way around).

I would advise everyone to put their trust and faith in Allah SWT, never give up hope that Allah SWT will send the one who is meant for you when the time is right - for Allah is the greatest of planners. May all the other individuals find their spouses through this app as well Insha'Allah.

Halima & Arshad

3 days ago

Egyptian Romance #muzmatchsuccess

My name is Yasmeen and I found my husband, Taymoor, on muzmatch on the last day of last ramadan. We were both divorced.

The first time we talked on muzmatch was in June and we got married one month later in August 2018. I always wanted to send our story to inspire others who are searching for a good husband and wife.  

We are both Egyptians, from Cairo, we even work & live very near to each others in New Cairo city. I am a digital marketing manager and Taymoor is an IT manager. I am 37 years old and he is 40.  

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I have a daughter who is 12 years old, and I was searching for a real Muslim man who would be a good husband and father. Finally I found Taymoor, who is a good man and a good Muslim, he is very kind.

I am telling my friends that I found someone who really looks like me from the inside.  He was divorced and also has a kid, who is 5 years old. When we first chatted on muzmatch we spoke for over 6 hours, he was surprised much we got on, he even thought that this was a prank!

I couldn't believe that I finally found the man I was looking for. The first time we met, was after Eid al futr, in the House of Cocoa, as Taymoor knew that I loved chocolate. We talked about ourselves for over six hours, I did not want to leave and neither did he.

After we met I told my family and friends, and he did too. He and his family visited us and we got married in only two months, I never imagined that I would find my soulmate and marry him that fast.

I always wanted to find a man to trust and love, after being a single mom for years, I found out that my dream man was hard to find, but alhamdullah I found him on your app.  

Alhamdullah, we are very happy together, my daughter lives with us and his son visits us on the weekends. You cannot imagine how much I am now recommending muzmatch to all my friends.

It didn't even take me long to find my husband. I used the app for almost one month or less.

I am so happy alhamdullah now that I married a real muslim I always wanted.  

4 days ago

Get married, free, on muzmatch.

Close Call #muzmatchsuccess

My name is Sara and I just wanted to thank muzmatch and let you know that I finally got engaged on 24th December 2018 and found my Fiance - Ghazunfar on the App.  

We are really happy Alhamdulilah and just wanted to thank you for creating a platform for Muslims to find a suitable match for marriage!    

I believe it's a real blessing because initially we matched but we didn't talk as he hadn't read my messages and was not appearing online. After around 4 weeks, I unmatched however after some weeks I logged in and I came across his profile again. After some giving it some thought I decided to rematch and give it a try again.

The next day he replied to me and the is history.  Its been a almost a year since we matched on Muzmatch and we have set the Nikkah date which will be 1st March 2019 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.  

Our families are very happy and we are looking forward to entering into the blessed union of marriage Insha'Allah. We just wanted to say keep up the good work, may Allah bless you and request that you keep us in prayers.  

One last thing to everyone using the  muzmatch App - please do not give up, there is someone out there for us all!  

4 days ago

Get married, free, on muzmatch.

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